Gambia By | Saturday, September 8   2012 at  15:27

Full Name
Republic of The Gambia
Origins of name: Named after the River Gambia, which flows through the country

Current Leader
President Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh (1996 - present)

Overview
The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was key to the establishment of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese and later by the British
Culture is a blend of native Bantu, Arab and European
Formerly a colony of the United Kingdom
Independent since February 18, 1965


Form of Government
Republic
Head of State is the executive President
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits)

Government Structure
President, Cabinet, Unicameral National Assembly

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: 492,134 People
Expenditures: 0.5% of GDP per year
Branches: Office of the Chief of Defence: Gambian National Army (National Guard, GNA), Gambian Navy (GN)

Former Rulers
1966 – 1970 Alhaji Sir Farimang Mamadi Singateh, Governor General
1970 –1994 Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara
1996- Present Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh

Capital
Banjul
Altitude: 2 metres
Population: 34,589 people

Population
Size: 1,776,000 (2011)
Life Expectancy 55.4 years
Gender make-up: Female - 50.1 %, Male - 49.9 %

GDP per capita
$ 2,000 (2011)

$ 2,000 (2010)

Geography
Area: 11,295sqkm
Land Boundaries: Senegal 740km

Major Languages
English (official), Mandinka, Wolof, Fula

Religious Portfolio
Muslim 90%
Christian 8%
Indigenous beliefs 2%

National Make-up
African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fula 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%)
Non-African 1%

Natural Resources
Fish, Titanium (rutile and ilmenite), Tin, Zircon, Silica sand, Clay, Petroleum, Seismic studies indicate the possible presence of oil and gas offshore

Main exports

Peanut products, Fish, Cotton lint, Palm kernels

Land Use
Arable land: 27.88%
Permanent crops: 0.44%
Other: 71.68%

Currency
Dalasi

Dialling Code
+220

Internet Code
.gm

Transport
Main Airport: Banjul International Airport located 24km from the city of Banjul

Main Port: Port of Banjul

Modern issues

Environmental
Deforestation
Desertification
Waterborne diseases prevalent

Political

Mr. Jammeh secured his fourth term in office as he was re-elected in 2011 with a landslide win, the contest however was condemned both by his main challenger and African observers
A military coup in 1994 overthrew the president and banned political activity, but a new 1996 constitution and presidential elections, followed by parliamentary balloting in 1997, have completed a return to civilian rule
Political activities are still restricted in Gambia under President Jammeh, who has dominated the political arena and rules with iron fist. He has been winning elections since coming to power

Economic
The Gambia has a liberal, market-based economy characterised by traditional subsistence agriculture, a historic reliance on groundnuts (peanuts) for export earnings
Re-export trade built-up around its ocean port also constitutes a major segment of economic activity
Agriculture accounts for roughly 30% of gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 70% of the labour force. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, other crops 8.3%, livestock 5.3%, fishing 1.8%, and forestry 0.5%

Social
Transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked to Europe for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation
Still hosting refugees from other West African countries
Media is gagged
Gross human right abuses
Unemployment and underemployment rates remain extremely high

Foreign Policy issues

The Gambia followed a formal policy of nonalignment throughout most of President Jawara's tenure
It maintained close relations with the UK, Senegal, and other African countries
The July 1994 coup strained The Gambia's relationship with Western powers, particularly the US, which until 2002 suspended most non-humanitarian assistance in accordance with Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act
Since 1995, President Jammeh has established diplomatic relations with several additional countries, including Libya, Taiwan and Cuba
Gambia plays an active role in international affairs, especially West African and Islamic affairs, although its representation abroad is limited

The Major Conflicts
After the Second World War, the pace of constitutional reform increased, the UK granted full internal self-governance so there was no bloody struggle

1981 coup attempt
When:1981
Who: Kukoi Samba Sanyang vs President Jawara’s government
Why: Quest for power
Outcome: Hundreds of lives were lost and property and infrastructure pillaged during the disturbances of the 1981 rebellion. The President, who had been on a visit to the UK, cut short his trip and flew to neighbouring Senegal seeking assistance. The Senegalese troops crossed into The Gambia and quelled the rebellion and Jawara returned to the throne

What to see?

National museum in Banjul
Tanbi wetlands near River Gambia
Albreda/Jufureh, twin villages of slave trade history
Standing stones around Wassu
Janjanbureh Island

Sports
Popular Sports
Football
Tennis
Cricket
Basketball
Wrestling
Rugby

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Jatto Ceesay: Gambian professional footballer, who currently plays for the Cypriot club. He also played for Wallidan Sens (Gambia), Willem II Tilburg (Netherlands), Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia), AEK Larnaca (Cyprus), FC Omniworld (Netherlands) and AEP Paphos (Cyprus). Ceesay is famous for his speed, which makes him a scourge for any defender

Quirks
President Yahya Jammeh claims to cure Aids and asthma. He takes a day off each week from his State duties to attend to Aids patients